Darren Ellwein has two decades of school experience as a teacher (Special Education and Social Studies) and administrator at the middle school level. In 2017 the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) awarded him the honor of Digital Principal of the Year. Currently, he is the principal at Harrisburg South Middle School in South Dakota. During his time in Harrisburg, he has been allowed the flexibility to rethink how education is provided to kids. His staff has embraced new ideas: personalized learning, Makerspaces, global connections for learning, iChoose (Genius Hour meets EdCamp), and design thinking.
Darren emphasizes that relationship is the key to our work in education. It is our purpose. He also believes learners should be allowed voice and choice to be innovative, creative in their work. This is done by allowing teachers flexibility to dream.
Darren has written for Principal Leadership, contributed to EdSurge, worked on CoSN’s Driving K12 Innovation: 2019 Hurdles, and has been a guest on NPR’s 1A. He has presented at various conferences and school districts around the United States and has even presented internationally in Norway. He has presented on various topics: leadership, personalized learning, Makerspaces, design thinking, iChoose, social media to promote your school, innovative spaces and seating, and connecting schools globally.
When not working to revolutionize education, Darren spends his time with his family: Tracee (wife) and their three children. During the summer and fall, he spends some time farming in South Dakota. Being a fourth-generation farmer helps ground his work and provides a therapeutic effect.